, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 1065–1077 | Cite as

Can we predict diatoms herbicide sensitivities with phylogeny? Influence of intraspecific and interspecific variability

  • Sara M. Esteves
  • François Keck
  • Salomé F. P. Almeida
  • Etelvina Figueira
  • Agnès Bouchez
  • Frédéric RimetEmail author


Diatoms are used as indicators of freshwater ecosystems integrity. Developing diatom-based tools to assess impact of herbicide pollution is expected by water managers. But, defining sensitivities of all species to multiple herbicides would be unattainable. The existence of a phylogenetic signal of herbicide sensitivity was shown among diatoms and should enable prediction of new species sensitivity. However, diatoms present a cryptic diversity that may lead to variation in their sensitivity to herbicides that would need to be taken into account. Using bioassays, the sensitivity to four herbicides (Atrazine, Terbutryn, Diuron, Isoproturon) was evaluated for 11 freshwater diatom taxa and intraspecific variability was assessed for two of them (Nitzschia palea and Achnanthidium spp.). Intraspecific variability of herbicide sensitivity was always smaller than interspecific variability, but intraspecific variability was more important in N. palea than in Achnanthidium spp. Indeed, one species showed no intraspecific phylogenetic signal (N. palea) whereas the other did (Achnanthidium spp.). On one hand, species boundaries are not set properly for Achnanthidium spp. which encompass several taxa. On the other hand, there is a higher phenotypic plasticity for N. palea. Finally, a phylogenetic signal of herbicide sensitivity was measured at the interspecific level, opening up prospects for setting up reliable biomonitoring tools based on sensitivity prediction, insofar as species boundaries are correctly defined.


Bacillariophyta Cryptic diversity Ecological assessment EC50 Micropollutant Species boundaries 



This study was financed by Onema (Office National de l’Eau et des Milieux Aquatiques), INRA (Projet Innovant Comipho) and two Erasmus fundings. Elean Ghiglione, Meline Corniquel and Sonia Lacroix are thanked for their technical assistance. The paper was revised by American Editors (c).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

This research do not involve human participants nor animals

Supplementary material

10646_2017_1834_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (13 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara M. Esteves
    • 1
    • 2
  • François Keck
    • 1
  • Salomé F. P. Almeida
    • 2
  • Etelvina Figueira
    • 3
  • Agnès Bouchez
    • 1
  • Frédéric Rimet
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.UMR CARRTEL, INRA, USMBThononFrance
  2. 2.Department of Biology and GeoBioSciences, GeoTechnologies and GeoEngineering Research Center (GeoBioTec)University of Aveiro, Campus de SantiagoAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.Biology Department and CESAM (Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar)University of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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